Fact Check: Trump Poverty and Welfare Statements in Inaugural Address

01.20.2017

For Immediate Release:                                                    

January 20, 2017                                                                                                                                                                                              

Fact Check: Trump Poverty and Welfare Statements in Inaugural Address

In his inaugural address today, President Donald Trump said: “But for too many of our citizens, a different reality exists: Mothers and children trapped in poverty in our inner cities … We will get our people off of welfare and back to work.”

President Trump thus implied that most U.S. poverty is in “inner cities” and that large numbers of Americans currently receive “welfare”; both implications are extremely misleading.

According to the U.S. Census Bureau, in 2015, the most recent year for which data is available, the rural poverty rate was 16.7 percent, far higher than the 13.0 percent rate in metropolitan areas and almost identical to the 16.8 percent rate in “principal cities.” See: http://www.census.gov/content/dam/Census/library/publications/2016/demo/p60-256.pdf

As of September 2016, the most recent month for which data is available, 3,707,121 million Americans received some sort of cash welfare supported by the federal government. See: https://www.acf.hhs.gov/sites/default/files/ofa/2016_recipient_tanssp.pdf

Thus only about 1.1 percent of the 324 million people living in America receive cash welfare. In 2015, the most recent year for which data is available, 43.1 million lived below the meager federal poverty line, which equaled $20,090 for a family of three. See:  http://www.census.gov/content/dam/Census/library/publications/2016/demo/p60-256.pdf.

In other words, only 13% of U.S. residents in poverty now receive cash welfare.

Joel Berg, the CEO of Hunger Free America, is available to discuss these and related topics. If you would like to interview him, please contact Magen Allen, as indicated above. 

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